Vivanista is a community that helps charitable organizations increase their awareness and effectiveness of charitable fundraising through sharing of best practices. Recently we ran their posts on “thon” fundraisers and do’s and don’ts for getting fundraiser press. Today’s post shares 50 key tips from experienced event organizers, based on a Vivanista poll. Isn’t it great to learn from mistakes without having to make them yourself? Dig in!


1. Be aware of the history of the event.

2. Know what has already been tried, so that you can avoid repeating past mistakes.

3. Have back-up plans prepared for key elements.

4. Know who you can call on for help (i.e., those with a vested interest in the success of the event.

5. Recruit an adequate number of volunteers.

6. Know if your event has a flexible launch date.

7. Have a plan, know your budget, but always be flexible.

8. Estimate how much time you’ll need for planning and project management… then prepare to spend twice that amount of time!

9. Determine how much time you are willing to commit to your event.

10. Be prepared that the event may take over your life… accept this and don’t forget to have fun!


11. Ensure that you have a well thought-out marketing and PR strategy in place.

12. Broaden your horizons: word-of-mouth promotion and internal contacts aren’t enough.

13. Use your personal network – call your friends.

14. Track your event’s attendee history for recent years.

15. Network like crazy… you never know who can help.

16. Be prepared to learn of strained relationships, and to handle with care!

17. Spend where it counts: hire excellent vendors.

18. Welcome innovative new ideas to rejuvenate stale events.

19. Be aware that the majority of people need to be prodded to follow through.

20. Leverage the world of FREE marketing. Embrace social media.


21. Know your fundraising goal: be mindful of the amount of money that needs to be raised.

22. Budget accordingly, and plan how to keep expectations in line with realities.

23. Be aware that a set ticket price may compromise some plans.

24. Be realistic about the number of hours you will need.

25. Know the sponsorship history of corporations for your event.

26. Know the organizations and individuals that have already agreed to provide funding.

27. Plan how to acquire additional corporate sponsors.

28. Add a creative touch to your solicitation letters.

29. Encourage corporate sponsors to support an innovative nonprofit in your community.

30. Mix up your auction. Consider all your options whether it be a fund in need or using electronic bidding devices.


31. Prepare clear job descriptions.

32. Ensure that you have a solid steering committee in place.

33. Enlist the support of the previous year’s event chair. Consider who might follow in your footsteps at next year’s event!

34. Determine the exact number of volunteers, and ensure that this number is sufficient.

35. Note past volunteers who should not be on board again.

36. Be prepared to manage volunteers with sensitivity, and to ensure that they follow through on designated tasks.

37. Be aware of the politics of your team members.

38. Delegate, delegate, delegate! It will be a lifesaver for you, and will ensure that your team shares a sense of ownership in the event.

39. Understand the internal workings of the organization your event is supporting – consider upcoming layoffs, staff changes, etc.

40. Establish effective communication, using technology and remaining aware of volunteers’ capacity to access it.


41. Brace yourself to hear a lot of “no’s.”

42. Pick your battles.

43. Know that not everyone will share your vision.

44. Be prepared for people who will take advantage of your passion.

45. Know that sometimes it’s all about business.

46. Trust, then verify.

47. Think outside the box.

48. Celebrate the small victories.

49. Know that you will feel a huge personal responsibility for the success or failure of your event.


50. Keep the FUN in fundraising!

Thanks again to Vivanista! And be sure to check them out on Twitter.

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